Germany needs to negotiate a new trade deal with the UK after Brexit to save its own economy from any potential fallout, a leading politician has said.
Britain leaving the EU poses a “high risk” to the economy, Bavarian Finance Minister Ilse Aigner said, adding that the UK is one of “the most important trading partners” for the region.
“We have to do everything to address the uncertainties that have arisen,” she said. “We have to find ways to put economic relations with the UK on a new foundation without fractures.”
Her comments are in contrast to other EU politicians, who want Britain to “pay a price” for quitting the bloc in order to stop other member states from leaving.
The Telegraph reports that Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, whose country will hold the rotating EU presidency next year, said Britain must not get a “superior deal” after Brexit.
“All of us have been pretty clear in our approach that we want a fair deal for the UK but that kind of fair deal can’t translate itself into a superior deal,” he said.
“I know that there is absolutely no bluffing from the European side, at least in the council meetings I have attended, saying ‘we will start in this position and then we will soften up’. No, this is really and truly our position.”
Ms Aigner’s comments suggest some in Europe may be nervous about punishing Britain for leaving the bloc. The UK is one of their biggest trading partners and any hit on the British economy would likely have a knock-on effect across the continent.
However, Mr Muscat even went as far as questioning whether British Prime Minister Theresa May would trigger Article 50 to begin the formal process of leaving by the March deadline she has set herself.
Downing Street responded that “the timetable remains to trigger Article 50 by the end of March next year.”